I was really hoping to add some pictures to this post, and excited to put together a time lapse from today’s training but unfortunately I messed up the settings! I will have to make it my mission to get good photos next week.
I’ve now been training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket for nearly two weeks in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Muay Thai, with no prior experience in either. It has been an awesome, though painful time. Right now my elbows are so messed up that I’m skipping Muay Thai this afternoon and just going straight into a full rest until next Monday hoping to get a bit of recovery in – if I use my left arm much at all, there’s very real physical pain to go with it and that’s just no good.
That’s the difference between training stuff like this a lot and just getting into it – the fact is my body’s just not used to being moved and pushed and stretched and taking impacts in the ways I’ve been doing so for the past two weeks. On the other hand my fitness from a cardio and muscular endurance perspective is through the roof – I not only can push my way through five-plus hours of fairly intense workouts a day in 90+ degree heat now, but I can do it and have plenty of energy left over. If my joints would hold together I could really push it!
What have I been learning? On the Muay Thai side, I’ve finally gotten the hang of proper form on kicks, knees, and elbows, though my punches are still a bit spotty. I’m enjoying the sparring and the padwork with the trainers, but the classes are very high octane and aren’t helping my joints at all. Plus as I get into better conditioning, I’m able to kick harder and faster for longer, which is causing my shins and feet to get bruised even more! I very much like my kicks though, the trainers seem very happy with them as well.
I’ve really been focusing on the MMA with Ray Elbe and it’s been awesome. I have a number of weapons now that I didn’t have before and can transition triangles and armbars from various angles, pass guard, and find occasional keylocks (let me tell you, the first time you realize you can work towards a kimura on someone it feels like a giant steak dropped in front of you). I’m not fast with these yet though, and I have to think them through, which kinda sucks (have to keep telling myself I’m still new and can’t expect to be a ninja yet).
On the other hand, my scrambles are getting good and my takedowns would make my Dad proud still – if I were wrestling! I know in my head that I have to do things differently but I haven’t re-learned yet. As a result, I get guillotined constantly because I try to use my head to control my opponent’s body and I get armbarred a lot as well because I push down to make space with my right arm too much when I’m on top.
Today we had a small in-class tournament and while everyone in my group was very experienced I was quite looking forward to it. Against my first opponent I started off well, got a good double leg, pulled out of guard to stand back up because he had me too tied up, then I sorta caught him in a throw but he ended up almost taking my back off a partial armbar. I transitioned that into a set of switches and ended up on top again and left my arm out yet again… he wrapped up the arm tight and I tried to roll out of it twice, lost space, then got confused as to which way to step around it and stepped the wrong way, tightening it up.
It wasn’t brutal and I didn’t plan on tapping (was trying to work out of it) but I heard someone say “he has to tap from that” and Ray said something similar, so I tapped because I realized my opponent had full control of me but didn’t want to push it through full extension. Afterwards Ray lectured everyone on “not making people break your arm” and I realized my inexperience here really puts me at risk!
My second (and last) match was really weird and again showed my inexperience. I shot a perfect single leg on Zach and was about to dump him hard when he jumped into a great standing guillotine on me (sigh). I had him well balanced and was able to keep my feet so he couldn’t tighten it up all the way – basically a stale mate position where I had to wait for his arms to tire so I could get my head out while he tried to get me to fall to the ground. For some reason though, my left ear started to hurt, then REALLY hurt, and I wasn’t sure what was going on and got a little scared. I actually said out loud “something is wrong with my ear, I gotta tap” and tapped, much to everyone’s dismay.
As soon as he let go, the muscle in my face directly in front of my ear went into spasms and started cramping bad. Nobody was really sure what happened (as Ray said “that’s a sign you need to take more jujitsu classes!”), as near as I can tell I had my mouth slightly open and he was putting pressure on my jaw sideways which caused the muscle that opens/closes the jaw to get stretched (ever have that thing pop up by the front of your ear when you are chewing or something?). It hurt like hell for about three minutes then was fine.
I loved watching some of the other matches because everyone in my group was very experienced (I’m not sure why Ray put me into that group but actually I’m glad). Victor, one of the full time guys here, actually caught Marcus (I think) in a flying armbar which was awesome. Seth wrecked with some heel hooks and overall there were a number of good submissions – I think only two of the 12 or so matches went the entire four minute round. Unfortunately, in the very final fight for the winner, Victor and Perry were in a clinch and both went for a whizzer at the same time. By virtue of size, Victor won but Perry’s arm was in a really bad position. The end result was that his elbow took the entire force of his body pushing against Victor as well as Victor trying to throw him down and went at least 45 if not 60+ degrees SIDEWAYS. It was a crappy ending to the practice, hopefully he just hyper-extended rather than broke it, but man it looked bad.
Tomorrow I think I might just chill out and rent a scooter and head to Kata beach, then Sunday I hope to get some shopping in at a big street market – maybe see a bit more of Thailand than the ten kilometer stretch of road I’ve been walking all over.
On a totally different subject I found a bunch of pictures from my last day exploring Angkor Thom in Siem Reap that I had completely forgotten about! These were taken while walking the huge old outer walls (around 7km on a side I believe), best part was that there was almost no one around! I then explored the temple where everyone watches the sunset from but bailed before the crowds hit. Photos are up on flickr here, or check out the slideshow below: